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Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers Preview

Game Time: 6:00 p.m. TV: CSNNW

Raise your hand if you know what's going to happen in this game. Yeah, me neither.

Long story short, both of these teams made major moves at the trade deadline, the Blazers divesting themselves of 2/5 of their starting lineup in exchange for draft picks and longshot youngsters, the Warriors trading long-time star Monta Ellis and forward Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee for injured center Andrew Bogut and forward Stephen Jackson, whom they shipped to San Antonio for Richard Jefferson. Plus star Stephen Curry is dealing with an inflamed ankle and may be done for the season. 2/5 of the Warriors' starting lineup is gone too.

The Warriors have only won a couple of games since the trade deadline. The Blazers have only won a couple of games since the trade deadline. Although nearly everybody in the West is still in the playoff race mathematically, neither team is likely to crack the top eight in the conference.

These are two squads playing out the string, trying to figure out what they've got with an eye towards makeovers next year. I'm not sure what this game means. We're not even entirely sure who's going to play from night to night. Here's what we do know:

  • David Lee can still fill it up.
  • So can LaMarcus Aldridge
  • Unsurprisingly, in the absence of Curry and Ellis the Warriors are having trouble scoring. They've cracked 100 twice since the deadline deals. That's not Warriors ball.
  • The Blazers have only reached the century mark once in the same span.
  • With no centers to speak of--Andris Biedrins is injured again--the Warriors are a small team.
  • So are the Blazers.
  • Golden State has no problem firing and hitting from outside. Most all of their wings like that shot.
  • The Blazers' wings have fallen in love with it as well.

In addition we know the following for sure about Portland:

  • They suffer from forwards with not enough chutzpah and guards with too much. LaMarcus Aldridge had an impressive game against the Lakers in their last outing. Seeing him assert himself was fantastic, but also rare. Portland's backcourt play ranges from pretty good to unwatchable. You never know which guards will show up from possession to possession. But they're going to get their possessions even if it's at the expense of the forwards.
  • The Blazers can't rebound.
  • The Blazers don't defend the paint well.
  • On the other hand the Blazers don't miss foul shots and more motion in the offense is drawing more.
  • The Blazers are also better from the arc than they were earlier, some combination of confidence, the green light, or just dumb luck.

Let's summarize. Outside shooters on both sides, a scoring power forward on both sides, big holes in the middle, random play from players who haven't been together long, the old playbooks out the window because of major pieces gone, season stats irrelevant, standings irrelevant, both teams playing no better than average...ugh.

My gut feeling: if anyone wants this game more than the other guy, they'll win it. Who knows what anyone wants on either of these teams anymore though? Are we going to see Portland vs. L.A. or Portland vs. Milwaukee? Portland does have homecourt which should make emotion and desire come easier. The last couple of games they seem to have figured out that playing together is more fun than just giving up and letting the other team destroy you. Still, Kobe Bryant was definitely laughing in the Blazers' faces at the end of that last game, that banked free throw tying a bow on the taunting. Even when the Blazers try to play hard opponents chuckle. Who will get the last laugh here?

Your guess is as good as mine.

The folks at Golden State Of Mind will yak about the Warriors.

You can see the Jersey Contest scoreboard, including Thursday's Memphis game results, here. There was no form for the Lakers game and there will be no form for this one as it's the weekend and people would only have a few hours notice. We'll resume the March contest on Tuesday.

--Dave (